Greg Haines – Until The Point Of Hushed Support
Sonic Pieces 2010
[tags: contemporary classic, ambient, electronica, very dark, 2010]
Listen while reading:
Waiting time is over, because one of my favorite German labels, Sonic Pieces, has officially announced its next release. If you remember the CFM reviews on Nils Frahm’s Wintermusik or the Portland Stories compilation (or both), you already know this fine label. In all other cases you should not wait and fill in this gap by listening to the new Greg Haines album Until The Point Of Hushed Support. It’s Greg’s third full length and it shows that contemporary classic, ambient and electronica can go hand in hand with each other without ever loosing the sobriety you’d expect from a modern and reflective composition.
I’ve often said it and I think I will repeat it again: I think we (the music world) are moving towards a folk sound that strongly combines contemporary classic and contemporary folk, just remember names like South China, Bird, Brown Bird, Joanna Newsom, Peter Broderick, Jozef Van Wissem or Richard Skelton. These are just few examples, but they show that such a movement is going on right now and that the possibilities emerging from this combination are sheer endless. Just take the instrumental work of Jozef Van Wissem on the one hand, who plays classical solo lute songs in the spirit of modern folk music; or on the other hand the instrumental music of Richard Skelton whose music is more classic orientated, but perfectly captures the atmosphere of folk music without really being folksy. Between those extremes there are more traditional contemporary folk bands like Brown Bird and Bird who integrate classical moments in their work, and then there are artists like South China who seem to explore relatively new ways. And don’t forget to add Out Like Lambs to this list, because they mix classic, jazz and folk very skillful. People like Peter Broderick show this development even through their Œuvre (solo piano here (Docile), contemporary folk there (Home) and again contemporary classic (Music For Falling From Trees)). But looking at this mixture, this modern folk movement, it would be a pity to not look to the left or to the right, for we would miss artists like the wonderful J. Tillman et. al. on the full on acoustic folk side and other interesting bands like the mentioned Nils Frahm or the today featured Greg Haines. Both groups, the singer-songwriters and the contemporary classical composers are separated, but they created the basis, the fundaments for the new classic folk in between (or should I use the more common term chamber folk?). So I’m really proud that there are labels out like Sonic Pieces which combine those opposite poles by releasing folk music (the Portland Stories compilation) as well as contemporary classic (Nils Frahm, Greg Haines) and even music from such outstanding figures like Peter Broderick. I think the catalog of the label shows, that both genres come more and more together – still very carefully right now, but steadily. And showing this polarity while simultaneously releasing both genres at one place, creates a new middle ground that leads to classic folk music in the end. Tradition meets tradition – CFM strongly supports this trend. Short story very long.
That brings me to Greg Haines after this very long foreplay. Until The Point Of Hushed Support can be settled at the classic pole, even though it shows some experimentation. It starts of very silently, and I mean it. The first track Industry Vs. Inferiority seems like the aftermath of the battle between both entities – very dark, very quiet, a fight fought, no happy end but the last notes for future’s beginning. Creepy. The track could be the prequel for the following three tracks starting with Marc’s Descent. The beginning seems to be sad, but there is still light, a bright but dying melody accompanies the loneliness. A short brake, still very sad, some ambient industrial splinters created by some synthesizers come in, the music gets more and more focused, there seems to be hope left, but the context denies its existence, some sort of bitter irony, renewed blaze ups, but the result is inevitable, the ground is near, the descent is over, the cold soil says hello while all the noises slowly die away. Intense. Track three starts without audible junction, some sort of memento mori, a soundtrack for the dead under a clear night sky with sparkling stars, a warm wind is blowing, but there is no living surface to feel the breeze. In The Event Of A Sudden Loss captures the emptiness, in the inside and the outside, but this emptiness hurts, it swells, it seems to get carried away, some hope shines trough, but in the end the emptiness is bigger than what it allows to be inside itself, the frameless frame consumes by surrounding – giving birth to everything, taking back everything, a paradox in the end. Track four: electronic bluebottles sum around, the cadavers are resting, are they gathered to celebrate the end?, some ghostly melody seems to populate the place, a fog of silk woven to a thin band, glowing from within. Very spooky stuff, you don’t want to be alone with this music while having dark, deep melancholic thoughts, this music brings you down. But therein lies all the beauty, the honesty, no Make Up used, duality between live and death, black and white in color. Jedem Ende wohnt ein Anfang inne! I don’t know, I hear vanitas, memento mori, carpe diem, all in one track – there was the descent, a sudden loss, not only of Marc, for we are all Marcs, of live in general. Death marks the point of least resistance – the end? No, life slowly starts to flow in, there are the deep, the dark tones of death still sounding, but live gets literally louder, emphasis, a new beginning, the emptiness again gave life, a new creation – rest now, new world, the music is slowly fading, where will it end? Press Play again.
You can pre-order the CD directly via Sonic Pieces – but be fast and get one of the 250 limited editions in book style packaging. For more information use Greg’s personal homepage. Don’t see this record in a culture pessimistic context, it stands above that, it’s realistic in a lyrical way, modern Baroque, dark and daunting.